Does Religion Make You Happier?


| 6 Comments
sacredheartjesus.jpg

From a Gallup pole  done of 550,000 individuals it was shown that Americans who are religious are less likely to be diagnosed with depression. Only 15.6% of religious Americans have been diagnosed with depression, as compared to 20.4% of moderately religious Americans and 18.7% of nonreligious Americans who have been diagnosed with depression. Further, those Americans who are very religious are less likely to report daily feelings of worry, hopelessness, and sadness (click http://www.gallup.com/poll/144980/religious-americans-report-less-depression-worry.aspx).

 

So why is it that religious Americans are less likely to be diagnosed with depression? The reason religious people are less likely to be diagnosed with depression is because religion often gives people a sense of purpose, something that depressed people often lack. This article further concluded that those who are religious feel a better sense of connection to their community and are more likely to have stronger social ties. Again, depressed people often feel that they are completely alone and that they have no friends. So, according to this study, it is actually the social connections and sense of purpose that religion fosters that causes those who are religious to be happier (study shown here).

 

Another study done of 2,100 Americans followed from birth to death showed that women who regularly attended church, were less likely to be depressed. However, there was no significant correlation between regular church attendance and men living a happier life. This further proves that God is not the reason that those who go to church are less depressed, because if that were the case women and men would be less depressed. It was noted that women who experienced depression as kids were often found to have stopped going to church services by the time they were 20. This study insinuates reverse causation, because it is not going to religious services that make you less depressed, but it just happens that those people who are not depressed go to church more frequently (for more information click here).

 

So after reading both of these studies we can determine that those who are religious are actually happier, but it's not necessarily God that is making them happier. While both explanations as to why religious people are less likely to be depressed are very plausible, neither has been tested repeatedly to see if their theories really hold. So we can conclude that religious people are less depressed, but we still cannot really pinpoint why this is the case.

6 Comments

Cara,
I believe that religious people are less depressed because of what they obtain from religion. Like you stated in your blog they have a sense of purpose and a community around them. Since the side effect of religion is usually other people who care for you and about the same causes it makes you feel good. The washington post also wrote an article on this in case you wanted more information.
http://onfaith.washingtonpost.com/onfaith/faithandhealing/2009/05/depression_and_religion.html

I think religion can keep a person from getting depressed. What people gain from following a religion is they get a calling they can follow and give purpose to their lives and possibly a way to answer "what am I doing here? And for what" in a way. It can also give them guidance on what to do and share how they feel and how their questions can be answered based on the teachings and lessons of their religion. That is not to say that people who do follow a religion can not get depressed, it just lowers the chances that they will get depressed because they have someone to turn to in some way to deal with their problems and life choices.

I think that this is a very good connection between religion and depression. After reading this I have to ask myself if there are any other connections with depression like if people have kids if they are less depressed because they have a purpose. I think that having a purpose is the underlying reason why a lot of people are depressed like you mentioned in your blog and people can find purpose from many different areas not only religion. Religion is a good place to find that purpose because not only does it make you less likely to be depressed but it also helps you worry less and stress less.

I agree with Laura, in that people that are religious obtain much from the religion they believe in. I go to a Presbyterian Christian Church back home and whenever I go to a retreat, the people that pray their hearts out seem to be completely happier and have a huge burden off their backs, so I would have to agree with this entry in that Religion decreases depression.

Maybe everyone should start believing in something...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B8nWi3GfXiY
Religious People are Happier

I think your conclusion that hat religious people are less depressed is sound and I think that it has to do with knowing that the weight of the world is not on your shoulders and you can use your spirituality as a means of escape. Spirituality has many definitions, but at its core spirituality helps to give our lives context. It's not necessarily connected to a specific belief system or even religious worship. Instead, it arises from your connection with yourself and with others, the development of your personal value system, and your search for meaning in life. For many, spirituality takes the form of religious observance, prayer, meditation or a belief in a higher power. For others, it can be found in nature, music, art or a secular community.

I liked this blog post. I do think that religion can give people purpose and, perhaps more importantly, hope. For example, when experiencing hard trials, religious people might believe that "God" is looking after them, and this can keep them from falling into depression. Regardless of what you think about religion, I think that this can be a good thing, just like any other philosophy that has a positive influence in someone's life.

Leave a comment

Subscribe to receive notifications of follow up comments via email.
We are processing your request. If you don't see any confirmation within 30 seconds, please reload your page.

Search This Blog

Full Text  Tag

Recent Entries

Lightning Strikes
As a result of Tuesday's class, I decided to look into something that brings about risk. Being struck by lightning…
Does a college education bring hapiness?
I was doing some research about college education, and came across an article that really came to my interest.…
Get Those Laptops Off Your Laps, Boys!
For years, my mother has been constantly telling me to separate my laptop from my stomach or lap via a…

Old Contributions